Practical

Boat Improvements

By on Jul 7, 2016 in Practical, Preparation | 0 comments

My Boat – practical improvements Author – Mike Rossiter Most boat owners who have had their craft for any length of time will have made what they consider are ‘improvements’. If the boat changes hands the new owner will scratch his/her head and think ‘what on earth did they do that for?’. In this article I will try and set out the alterations made to my own boat, a Vancouver 28. Perhaps some of these changes will help the reader make his/her own ‘improvements’. Saloon Table   The original drop-leaf table in the saloon has been replaced by a cockpit table which sits on a post bracketed to the side of the starboard bunk. This arrangement allows the table to be swung out of the way when not being used, making better use of cabin space, as shown above. The post and table can be removed and an additional bracket has been mounted on the side of the cockpit for ‘al fresco’ dining. (The port bunk lee cloth has been rigged to act as a storage area for loose items that do not have a home elsewhere) The original table has been kept in store in case a future owner wishes to reinstate the traditional table. A previous owner made an extension to widen the starboard bunk for sleeping. This is a length of 18mm ply shaped to fit the space between the bunk and mast post. You can see the small wood block on the post and the trim on the side of the bunk that supports this extension. A cushion shaped to fit the infill completes the extension. This is placed at the back of the starboard seat when not being used for sleeping. The ply itself stows under the bunk cushion when not in use. A memory foam topper which is rolled into a cushion/bolster by day adds to bunk comfort at night! On the door to the toilet is a magnetic cupboard catch to prevent it swinging when open. Cockpit working platform A number of nights each season are spent at anchor or secured to a mooring buoy. The inflatable dinghy is stored in the port locker. Boards have been made which cover the cockpit...

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Understanding your boat’s compass

By on Apr 21, 2016 in Navigation, Practical | 0 comments

Article submitted by Mike Rossiter, Certificated Compass Adjuster. Since the magnetic compass was first used by the Chinese for navigation sometime around 1044, it has become an essential instrument on every boat, yacht & ship. There are a wide range of compass types, including Magnetic, Gyro, GPS, Astrocompass, Base plate & Card. For our purposes, the most commonly used are: Magnetic compass The magnetic compass is the most familiar compass type. It functions as a pointer to “magnetic north” because the magnetized needle at its heart aligns itself with the horizontal component of the Earth’s magnetic field. Most hand bearing compass’s are of this type. A hand bearing compass allows you to take bearings of distant objects, which you can then transfer to a paper chart to create plot lines. Taking bearings of at least two objects that are 45 or more degrees apart results in intersecting lines on the chart, giving a position fix. To improve accuracy, we recommend taking bearings of three different objects and several sightings of each one and taking an average of the readings. If you find that another vessel stays on the same bearing over a period of time then watch out as you are on a collision course. Fluxgate compass The fluxgate compass is used in boats mainly for the purpose of steering. Fluxgate compasses are typically made with coils of wire that employ electricity to amplify the directional signal. Unlike the traditional magnetic compass which relies on a moving needle that is placed atop the magnet, the fluxgate has no moving parts. These are typically found in Autopilots and Tiller Pilots like this from Raymarine: The inbuilt compass is housed in the dome underneath:   GPS compass These use satellites in a geo synchronous orbit over the Earth to show the exact location and direction of movement your vessel, as well as your speed over the ground. They determine true North, as opposed to magnetic North, and they are unaffected by variations in the Earth’s magnetic field. Additionally, compared with gyrocompasses, they are much cheaper. Best of all, you probably have one with you, built in to your smart ‘phone, as well as on your boat’s chart plotter. Mike Rossiter, Certificated Compass Adjuster, has contributed the following...

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Rewiring a boat – overcoming the challenges involved

By on Apr 18, 2016 in Practical, Preparation | 0 comments

Skippers need to have a basic knowledge of boat electrics, to avoid potential problems and to be able to solve them when they happen. The basic principles are easy enough to grasp, but as I have found out in recent weeks, the challenges involved in rewiring a boat are more demanding   When I bought my present boat, the state of the wiring was truly shocking (excuse the pun). Although the 35 year old Contessa had two nearly new batteries the wiring itself was in a dismal state, with many exposed and corroded connections. It was also in a disorganised tangle made worse by the fact that a succession of instruments and electronics had been added, replaced or removed over the years. We made some temporary repairs in 2014 to get the nav lights working, but this year decided to bite the bullet and rewire the whole boat. I was in a bit of a dilemma as I had little electrical knowledge and hiring a marine electrician to do the job was going to cost a fortune. I needed to learn more about boat electrics. I bought a copy of Pat Manley’s book Essential Boat Electrics which has proved very useful and helped to demystify the subject. Reading this made me realise that doing the whole job by myself was going to be challenging, if not foolhardy. Luckily I have a good friend called Mark who is much more knowledgable than I am and he has very kindly helped me out, teaching me a great deal in the process. How we have gone about things: Step 1 – assessment We made a thorough inspection of the existing system labelling each wire and checking what it was connected to. At the same time we tested connections using a multimeter, making notes as we went. There were signs of overheated wiring in places, which could have resulted in a serious fire. It soon became clear that doing this job was an absolute necessity. The assessment took some time but it was worth doing as it made things much easier later on when we came to replace the wiring. Step 2 – the plan We made a plan for the new system, showing instruments, location of...

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A simple guide to understanding tides when passage planning

By on Feb 4, 2016 in Navigation, Practical, Preparation | 0 comments

Understanding tides when passage planning When planning a trip in tidal waters, check the tides before going afloat. Use almanacs, charts, tide tables and tidal stream atlases to gather all the data you need. It is advisable to have a written note of tidal data for your trip including: Your boat’s draft. The predicted times (in Universal Time) of high and low water. The heights of the tide. The tidal ranges. The direction and speeds of the tidal streams en route. Check when and how the state of the tide will affect local areas including shallows, harbour entrances, sand bars, headlands and estuaries. Check predictions and forecasts to determine if and when rough seas caused by wind against tide will occur. Be prepared to change your plan to avoid being caught in adverse conditions. Use all the data you gather to: Plan your departure time(s). Take advantage of tidal flow to shorten journey time. Estimate your journey time. Plan your arrival time(s). Avoid potential hazards caused by tidal conditions. Ensure there will be safe clearance under your keel at all times.   Tips: Double check all calculations. Remember to allow for Summer Time, if applicable. Avoid shallow water on a falling tide.  ...

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Pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations

By on Dec 9, 2015 in Practical, Preparation | 0 comments

Safety equipment is an important part of boat preparation and it is advisable for all pleasure craft skippers to check their vessel is properly equipped. Below are some useful pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations from the UK’s Royal Yachting Association (RYA). All skippers should be mindful of any laws that exist in their country regarding pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations. It makes sense wherever you are to keep a vessel appropriately equipped and for that equipment to be serviced and up to date. Some boat owners are put off doing this because pleasure craft safety equipment can be costly and might never be used. It is unwise to ignore pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations and not to keep a check of equipment expiry dates. There are strict laws for commercial vessels and for pleasure vessels over 13.7 metres in length. However, no statutory requirements exist for pleasure craft under 13.7 metres in length other than those stipulated in SOLAS V. SOLAS V is part of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and can be downloaded via the internet. The lists below cover essential, mandatory and recommended items for vessels up to 13.7 metres and over 13.7 metres in length. Pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations – vessels up to 13.7m in length Essential Lifejacket (or buoyancy aid) for all on board. Safety harnesses (varies with type of boat). Kill cord and spare (varies with type of boat). Marine Radio (VHF). Chart(s), Almanac and Pilot Book. Hand Bearing Compass. Handheld white flares or powerful torch (for collision avoidance). 406 MHz EPIRB/PLB (varies with area of operation). Distress Flares. First Aid Kit. Liferaft and Grab bag (varies with area of operation). Firefighting equipment. Equipment to deal with a man overboard (life ring, dan buoy etc.). Emergency tiller (for wheel steered boats) (varies with type of boat). Equipment to deal with water ingress (Bailer, Bilge Pump, Bungs). Bucket (strong with lanyard). Emergency VHF aerial for fixed VHF (varies with type of boat). Anchor and cable/warp. Tools and spares (engine, electrics, rig, sails). Boarding ladder. Spare fuel. Waterproof torches. Mooring lines and fenders. Knife. Pump and puncture repair kit (for inflatable boats). Alternative means of propulsion (oars, outboard engine etc). Ship’s log book. Accurate...

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Essential yacht tender safety for skippers and crew

By on Oct 7, 2015 in Boat Handling, Practical, Preparation | 1 comment

Essential yacht tender safety – the dangers inherent in using a dinghy to get ashore from a moored or anchored yacht are all too easily underestimated. A recent experience caused me to have a serious think about essential yacht tender safety. Recently I faced the prospect of coming ashore from my mooring in the pitch dark, in wet, breezy conditions with a strong tide running, over a distance of about 300 metres. I was by myself and it prompted me to ask myself before setting off whether it would be unsafe to use the tender or should I spend the night on board? Consider your options Yes, the driest and safest option would have been to stay on board, but I had my wet weather gear and a lifejacket, I hadn’t been drinking and I was confident that my little Zodiac inflatable was up to the job. OK, if the outboard packed up then it would be a challenging row against the fast running tide.  However the tide was coming in so I wouldn’t be swept out to sea and, with wind against tide, there were going to be sharp little waves to contend with. I decided to go for it and quickly got completely soaked by the spray, as did the gear. Finding my way through the boats on their swinging moorings in the pitch darkness was a challenge.  I was greatly reassured to have my truly excellent Exposure Marine X2 torch. I would urge all those who use a tender to buy one – expensive but worth every penny. They are waterproof, lightweight and incredibly powerful. For details see here . There are inherent risks in most boating activities and this includes using a yacht tender to get ashore from a mooring or anchorage. After last week’s soaking, I have compiled some hints and tips about essential yacht tender safety – see below. Essential yacht tender safety : Plan ahead and make notes of the tide state and weather forecast for when you set out and expect to return from a trip. Wear lifejackets, even for short trips. Wear a killcord, even for short trips. Carry oars as back up in case the outboard fails. Carry a means of communication...

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